New Yorkers are breathing a sigh of relief as the Big Apple inches closer toward reopening and COVID-19 vaccinations ramp up nationwide — with revelers dancing in the street and celebrating at their favorite eateries.
As spring-like temperatures set in Thursday, President Biden offered Americans a sunny outlook — every adult will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine starting May 1 with the goal of allowing small groups to gather again by the Fourth of July.
“I’m looking forward to having that [July 4th] cook-out,” said Mel Chinete, 40, who lives in Manhattan with his wife after emigrating from Ethiopia. “I will be able to hug my friends, my brothers and sisters. I haven’t seen some of them in over a year now.”
Chinete said he was “excited” about Biden’s announcement, which also stressed the need to get vaccinated and continue wearing masks.
“But I’m also cautious,” he added. “We should start to relax a little now but still listen to the scientists.”
Meanwhile, restaurants in New York City, the global epicenter of the public health crisis one year ago, got the green light this week to expand indoor dining to 50 percent capacity starting March 19 — the day before spring begins.
The sweet relief was evident Thursday night across the city — couples kicked up their heels in Times Square as music pumped through speakers, while sidewalks were packed with diners grabbing a bite outdoors. Others were spotted sauntering around Midtown in light jackets.
The much-needed winter thaw will continue Friday — with sunny skies forecast and temperatures in Central Park topping at a sunny 64 degrees before dropping back down to a chilly 37 degrees overnight.
Indoor dining returned in the city on Feb. 12 at 25 percent capacity, though many eateries have spent a fortune on erecting elaborate outdoor dining setups in an effort to save their businesses.